Welcome to the first edition of Matter’s monthly retail tech Q&A, Now Pitching, where we catch up with the industry’s leading journalists to get a pulse on the trends they’re following and topics they’re focused on.
We’re thrilled announce our first reporter spotlight is Dan Berthiaume, U.S. Senior Editor, Technology at Chain Store Age!
A retail industry veteran and Matter favorite, Dan joined Chain Store Age in 2013 and oversees technology coverage for the publication. He has broad experience in covering business, high tech, government, education, and general interest topics. We’ve worked closely with Dan over the years to secure features for clients such as British retail giant eyes smarter supply chain (Blue Yonder, formerly JDA Software); Exclusive Q&A: Aetrex Worldwide takes footwear scanning to new level with True Fit (True Fit); and Home Depot increases sales visibility for decreased shrink (Profitect).
Dan gives us an inside look into what he is currently working on and helpful tips for PR pros looking to engage with him.
Matter: What are you working on currently?
Dan: Right now, the coronavirus is dominating pretty much all news coverage, even in the retail tech space. One virus-related topic I’m writing a lot about is how brick-and-mortar retailers are leveraging digital and omnichannel technology to maintain operations when customers do not want to enter or perhaps are even legally prohibited from entering their stores. This includes on-demand delivery, curbside pickup, and partnering with third-party digital platforms. Also, an increasing number of retailers are offering tamper-proof packaging and “contactless” delivery and pickup options to set concerned consumers’ minds at ease.
Matter: What topics or trends in retail do you find the most interesting right now?
Dan: I think there is an overarching sense among retailers that now is the time for implementing practical IT solutions. The annual NRF “Big Show” in January always gives a good preview of what the year in retail tech will look like, and this year’s exhibit hall focused on emerging technologies that provide real business value, rather than make your eyes pop wide. This included non-humanoid, functional robots for automating mundane tasks such as scanning shelves, detecting spillage and breakage, and moving products through fulfillment. Also, RFID is finally making inroads as an inventory management solution, especially among apparel retailers who may have 50% or more of their inventory already equipped with RFID tags.
Matter: What sort of story or data would you love to get from a source as an exclusive?
Dan: There is no one specific category of story or data I’d love as an exclusive. While any reporter thrives on exclusives, the more innovative or paradigm-breaking a story’s subject matter is, the more valuable it becomes. An exclusive on a retailer implementing a new POS system or a study showing younger consumers like to shop via mobile is nice. An exclusive on a retailer radically altering their merchandising strategy with a new form of artificial intelligence or a study proving baby boomers are the generation most likely to have Tik Tok videos drive purchases is REALLY nice.
Matter: How do you prefer to receive pitches or be contacted by PR pros?
Dan: Email is the best method for pitching me. I generally don’t have the time to take a phone pitch, texts quickly become overwhelming, and messages on social platforms are easy to overlook. I check my email pretty regularly and if something catches my eye, I’ll respond as soon as I’m able. A concise pitch is better than a wordy one – for this type of writing, try to model yourself after Hemingway more than Faulkner. But true to my Gen X roots, I’d rather read something than watch a video pitch.
Matter: What is a fun fact about yourself that people may not know?
Dan: Like most anyone who majored in English in college, I’m a frustrated fiction writer at heart. I have published about 10 short stories over the years in a variety of obscure print and online magazines, and won a couple of minor fiction contests. I also once had a satiric novella about the early 2000s dotcom crash accepted by an indie publisher that went bankrupt well before the book ever reached editing stage – maybe not a coincidence!
Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay tuned for our next edition of Now Pitching.